Rus­batch shoot­ing skills power Hawks

Sunday News - - SPORT -

An Ethan Rus­batch shoot­ing mas­ter­class pow­ered the Hawke’s Bay Hawks to a bounce­back first win of the New Zealand NBL sea­son at Pet­ti­grew Green Arena.

The Tall Blacks shoot­ing guard poured in a game-high 34 points as the Hawks shook off their sea­son-open­ing 106-79 de­feat to the Welling­ton Saints a day ear­lier and de­feated Jeff Green’s Su­percity Rangers 98-86 in Napier last night.

Rus­batch, a con­tender for Paul Henare’s Tall Blacks to head to the World Cup in China, had the hot hand through­out as he made 12 of his 20 shots, in­clud­ing 7 of 11 at­tempts from be­yond the arc. He added 8 re­bounds and a pair of as­sists to com­plete an out­stand­ing all-round per­for­mance.

Chief sup­port came from im­port EJ Sin­gler who chipped in with a qual­ity dou­ble-dou­ble of 26 points (10/24 FG), 12 re­bounds and 3 as­sists as the Hawks fin­ished the open­ing round 1-1. Dion Prew­ster added 15 points at an ef­fi­cient 5-of-10 clip for the vic­tors who got 89 of their 98 points from their start­ing five.

The Rangers hung with the Hawks early, but the mar­gin grew to nine by half­time (50-41) and 15 (78-63) at the fi­nal break. The Rangers, also 1-1 at the end of open­ing round, were paced by a dou­ble-dou­ble of 26 points,14 boards and 3 steals from Aussie Venky Jois.

Amer­i­can sign­ing Tim Quar­ter­man fin­ished with 19 points (7/22 FG), 8 re­bounds, 4 asis­sts and 4 steals, though Jaylen Ger­rand did chip in with 10 points off the bench.

Mean­while, a bal­anced per­for­mance from the Nel­son Gi­ants starters got them up to a state­ment 93-78 open­ing vic­tory over the Taranaki Moun­tainairs at home.

Aussie sign­ings Rhys Vague (21 points) and Daniel Grida (15 points, 7 boards) made handy con­tri­bu­tions, as did Amer­i­can im­port, and Aus­tralian NBL reg­u­lar, Jor­dair Jett who chipped in with 17 points and 7 as­sists in a pol­ished Gi­ants per­for­mance.

All five Nel­son starters made strong con­tri­bu­tions, with Tall Blacks squad mem­ber Tyrell Har­ri­son chip­ping in with 10 points (4/7 FG), 7 boards and a pair of steals, while Sam Demp­ster added 13 points (5/10 FG), 9 re­bounds, 3 as­sists and 3 steals. It’s the ideal start for the Gi­ants who are hop­ing to pick up as many wins as pos­si­ble be­fore Finn De­lany and Mika Vukona re­turn to bol­ster their depth.

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